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Singapore assails Facebook for refusal to remove post on premier Lee

Bloomberg/ 10 Nov 18 | 09:12 PM

Singapore lashed out at Facebook Inc, calling the social media giant unreliable after it declined a request to remove a post that linked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the city state with 1MDB allegations.

Facebook’s decision to not remove malicious information on Singapore shows the need for legislation, the Ministry of Law said in a statement. The government is protesting a post by the States Times Review, an alternative news website, which connected the country and its leader to probes on the embattled Malaysian state fund.

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“Facebook has declined to take down a post that is clearly false, defamatory and attacks Singapore, using falsehoods," the Ministry of Law said. Facebook "cannot be relied upon to filter falsehoods or protect Singapore from a false information campaign."

A Facebook spokeswoman in Singapore declined to comment on the government’s statement.

The States Times Review cited the Sarawak Report, a Malaysian website focusing on subjects such as politics and human rights, as saying Singapore is a target in 1MDB investigations. The Sarawak Report said in Facebook posts that it made no such comments.

The State Times Review has since said it will stop publishing new articles after being blocked by Singapore authorities, and denied charges of it being defamatory.

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Singapore is among a growing number of countries looking at laws regulating “fake news" and the social media. The parliament established a committee in January that reviewed the use of digital technology to deliberately spread falsehoods online and also investigated the impact of falsehoods on the web on the city-state’s institutions and democratic processes.

A parliamentary-select committee’s report laid out 22 recommendations that included a call for legislation to halt the viral spread of fake news “in a matter of hours." The measures sparked concerns among some big technology companies with the Asia Internet Coalition -- a group representing companies such as Apple Inc, Facebook and Google -- urging Singapore to consider industry self-regulation and coordination with local authorities.

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